The website for Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Foundation’s is chock full of articles such as this one
, which offers tips for women looking to negotiate for what they deserve in life, including better wages.
That’s part of the reason why a Facebook post
from the Foundation’s editor-at-large, Jessica Bennett, seeking an unpaid intern, raised lots of eyebrows
this week. By Thursday, the foundation had to publicly address the matter and “share the facts.”
Bennett’s initial post read:
Wanted: Lean In editorial intern, to work with our editor (me) in New York. Part-time, unpaid, must be HIGHLY organized with editorial and social chops and able to commit to a regular schedule through the end of the year. Design and web skills a plus! HIT ME UP! Start date ASAP.
The comments on the post that aren’t angry are mostly mocking, though a handful do support unpaid internships.
Here’s what commenter Andrew Langille said:
On behalf of the intern rights movement thanks a bunch for advertising that position. You gave us a lot of free advertising in what's traditionally a slow news month. All the best and in the future remember to pay your interns.
Interns at companies around the country have been fighting for more pay, or any at all, for months, a campaign that was catapulted into the spotlight when a group of interns for the film “Black Swan” won a lawsuit
contending that their unpaid work was illegal.
A day later, Bennett posted an explanation
of her initial listing:
Want to clarify previous Lean In post. This was MY post, on MY feed, looking for a volunteer to help me in New York. LOTS of nonprofits accept volunteers. This was NOT an official Lean In job posting. Let's all take a deep breath.
Of course, the initial post, which calls the position a “Lean In editorial intern,” is still visible to everyone.
Thursday afternoon, LeanIn.org president Rachel Thomas posted an official statement
on the matter, explaining a distinction between interns and “volunteers.”
“Like many nonprofits, LeanIn.Org has attracted volunteers who are passionate about our mission,” Thomas wrote. “We’ve had four students ask to volunteer with us. They worked flexibly when they could, and often remotely.”
Thomas continues to say that the Lean In Foundation has no formal internship program, but it will. When it does, those interns will be paid.
That message has racked up nearly 200 comments, which have taken the form of a sort of forum about the merits of unpaid internships. The debate, clearly, will continue.